Rock and Roll: Earthquake

San Jose, California - Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - By: Kevin McIntyre
At 10PM Monday night we were stretched out in bed watching a movie on the VCR when suddenly the room had the sensation of a large truck driving by. Now where we are, that doesn't happen, and the intensity built and built.
Sandra jumped up with a look on her face that matched how I felt: we were in the throes of an earthquake that had no intention of stopping anytime soon! Audio wise, it was strongly rumbling. The bed was shaking, the blinds swaying strongly and the three mirrored panels on the closet door were also moving intently. A lot of water had sloshed out of the pool.
Our building is seven floors tall, we are on the sixth floor. The first three are steel and concrete construction for the parking garage, the four above are wood framed.
The building was moving! This was a long event, a good fifteen seconds. When it was over we stared at each other for a moment then we heard a couple of guys in the courtyard cry out "Whoa! Woo Hoooo!" I muttered a few things myself... and Sandra said it felt like a 5.2.

Editor's Note: Though technically an earthquake is possible anywhere as Kevin mentioned here, even at Esterhazy. Earthquakes are caused by movements of the plates deep under the surface. From the Mississipi valley to the Rocky mountains from Brownsville Texas to Grand Prairie is all one tectonic plate, without faults and the only earthquakes on the great central plains are caused by collapsing of salt caverns in the upper layers of the material over the bedrock.
I turned off the movie and tuned on the local news. It took about ten minutes for them to start covering the event. The epicenter was three miles south of Gilroy and five miles deep. Gilroy, Garlic Capital of America - - is thirty-five miles South of us.

While I was saying it must have been very strong to feel it so far away, Sandra told me the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that delayed the World Series was centered in Santa Cruz. Locally, there was moderate damage but the action followed the fault lines up to San Francisco sixty-five miles away and unleashed itself into an area of reclaimed land: land fill. Much the same as cracking the whip.

We went online, the US Government
Seismic site instantly had the event listed as a 5.2 - a "moderate" quake.

Several years ago on the Nature of Things David Suzuki was talking about earthquakes. They can occur anywhere, in fact my cousin works in the IMC potash mine at Esterhazy and he says they are quite common there. Ten years ago one hit, it opened an underground river and they nearly lost the mine to the flood. The city of Richmond BC is built below sea level, on land fill, and is the most susceptible city in North America to destruction. With reclaimed land, it doesn't have a solid base. Shake the ground, and water instantly permeates the land mass and turns it into mud. Suzuki showed pictures from Japan, the process happens so fast buildings sink or lay onto their sides fully intact, utility poles sink to their cross bars.

Last year on the news they said San Jose has two areas prone to liquefaction: San Jose State University and the airport. Well, the entrance to SJSU is directly across the street, the airport is a mile north.

These freeway pictures were taken January 2001 up by San Francisco Airport: I drive over and under overpasses like this everyday. At the onramp to I-280 you drive under one and wait for the light to change. There are just some things you don't think about while driving.....
What we on the prairies consider to be Storm Weather, hot, still, muggy, they recognize that as Earthquake Weather down here. Although denied by meteorologists, hot muggy days in the fall are more prone to induce shifting of the tectonic plates. Yesterday, Gilroy was the hot spot of the Valley at 76ºF. On the news today the only real damage aside from things falling from shelves was a house burned down. They didn't have an Earthquake Strap on their hotwater heater to secure it to the wall. It fell over and broke the gasline causing the fire.
United States Geological Service